A series of Palestinian terrorist attacks and an Israeli military response have opened up a tit-for-tat battle between Gazan terrorists and Israel. The latest violence has disrupted an uneasy and inconsistent quiet between Israel and the multiple militant organizations vying for control of Gaza.
"I have set out a principle – when the citizens of Israel are attacked, we respond immediately and with strength," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu. "That principle was implemented today. Those who gave the order to murder our citizens, while hiding in Gaza, are no longer among the living." He also pledged that this was just Israel's "initial response."
Over the course of two days, Israeli jets pounded terrorist targets in Gaza connected with the Palestinian Resistance Council [PRC], a group loosely affiliated with Hamas but known to carry out its own operations. Israel's initial strike killed the PRC's most senior leader along with several other ranking terrorists, and successive assaults have hit seven Hamas security installations and other PRC targets.
Although none of Gaza terrorist groups have claimed responsibility for the initial coordinated attack in Eilat, several have praised it and called for more violence against Israel. Hamas denied a connection to the attack, but they praised the killing of Israeli soldiers. The group's military wing also issued a flier saying "the blood of resistance leaders has not been shed in vain; the continuance of Israel's crimes will bring a disaster on its head." A spokesman for the PRC denied the attacks, calling them Israeli's own "internal problems," and vowed to retaliate against "everything and everyone" involved in killing their members. They also fired around 16 rockets into Israel, including one that was shot down by Israeli missile defense and one that hit an Orthodox Jewish seminary.
Another Gaza group sympathetic to al-Qaida, the Tawheed and Jihad Group, seemed to hint at a different identity of the attackers. The group lauded the "blessed arms" used against the "vendeta-filled (sic) Jewish enemy," and said the attacks were a message that Egypt had joined the struggle against the "enemies of Allah." This may have been a reference of the presence of an al-Qaida affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula, or aggressive rhetoric between Israeli and Egyptian officials. Several Egyptian soldiers were killed during the gunfight between the terrorists and Israeli soldiers, apparently while trying to corner the armed group. Egypt has strongly condemned the attack and demanded an Israeli probe.